Seizure-alert dogs are service dogs with a special talent and training to detect seizures before they happen. Not all dogs have the ability to become seizure-alert dogs. Seizure-alert dogs are rare and require extensive, specialised training costing up to £16,250 before they are ready to be placed with a handler. To find a seizure-alert dog, contact organisations that train service dogs or, if you're an experienced dog trainer, consider training your own service dog.
- Skill level:
Things you need
Assess your specific needs. Some people with seizure disorders do not need seizure-alert dogs, which have the rare ability to warn their handlers of seizures before they happen. Seizure-response and seizure-assistance dogs do not alert to seizures before they occur, but can help their handlers during and after a seizure. Seizure-response and seizure assistance dogs are more common and easier to train than seizure-alert dogs.
Contact organisations that train seizure alert dogs and pair them with human handlers. Organizations in this field, reports Epilepsy. com, include Canine Partners for Independence, Assistance Dogs International and Paws with a Cause.
Research the organisations that interest you. Use the internet to search for reviews from people who received seizure-alert dogs from these organisations. If you find a negative review that worries you, ask the organisation for an official response.
Apply to be partnered with a seizure-alert dog. This will typically require an application, application fee, essay, references and proof of your ability to care for a dog. If you are accepted, you will need to attend training with your service dog and pay a fee that may range anywhere from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars.
Finding a Seizure Alert Dog
Tips and warnings
- If you are a highly experienced dog trainer who has handled at least one service dog in the past, consider adopting and training your own service dog. This is merely a matter of personal preference and you will still need to hire a professional trainer for help.
- Seizure-alert dogs enjoy the same public access rights as guide dogs and other service dogs. Your seizure-alert dog will be allowed to accompany you wherever you go.
- Plan on waiting at least a year to be paired with a seizure-alert dog. The demand for seizure-alert dogs far outpaces supply.
- Beware of for-profit organisations that train seizure-alert dogs. While some of these organisations provide well-trained service dogs and are a good choice for handlers who can afford their higher fees, the attorney general's office in at least one state has charged a for-profit business with not training dogs adequately.
- If you are not interested in caring for a companion dog, don't apply to be matched with a seizure-alert dog. Service dogs need play, walks, food and tender, loving care just as all pets do.
- Don't expect your dog to be perfect right away. Training is an ongoing process throughout every dog's life, no matter how well trained he was before you got him.
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